“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from the store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” Dr. Seuss
The question “What does a stress free December look like for you?” was posed on a facebook group that I'm in. There was some discussion about getting cards sent out in November and not being able to get the decorating done and so on.
It got me to thinking about the relationship between our traditions and stress. I don’t think I am alone in feeling like December is a very stressful month. With little ones in your care it can be over the top.
As an older child/teenager, Christmas gift shopping was an anxiety provoking activity that left me feeling frazzled. I do not enjoy shopping at the best of times (gasp…yes, I know I am weird because what woman doesn’t like to shop? - actually I have met a few). The malls during the holidays felt chaotic and noisy to me. Never mind that I never knew what to get anybody. My 20 something self would buy my family gifts in October just to get it over with and avoid the rush. Then I withdrew from the gift exchange all together. This wasn’t too hard as I lived several provinces away. Hubby and I, when we were married, decided that we wouldn’t exchange Christmas gifts with each other (or anyone else for that matter). We got some grief for that. It was difficult. And stressful. In my thirties, I learned that gift giving/receiving is not my love language. Explains a lot eh?
So I am going to say things that some might hate me for. However, I don’t care because I have learned to love myself and I hope that it will help you learn to love yourself as well. No, I am not talking about being selfish. I repeat, I am talking about loving yourself. Sometimes traditions are not in our best interest, at least the ones that someone else has created and expects. By sharing the process of sorting out the traditions that brought me anxiety and replacing them with more of the ones that bring me pleasure, I hope it will help others find their own enjoyable traditions thus reducing the holiday stress. What traditions could you get rid of?
I used to hate Christmas until I learned to make my own traditions during the holidays. We do not spend much money on gifts. The kids enjoy receiving them so we get a little something for them. We do not decorate. No tree. I have a collection of snowmen and snowflakes that I display. Sometimes they get put out in November. Sometimes in February. Sometimes not at all. I don’t send cards or family photos. I might send a group email with photos in January or maybe in the spring. But mostly, I prefer to keep in touch with people throughout the year. If you love doing these things that’s great. I am not suggesting they are a bad thing in general. For me they were bondage.
Our little family’s traditions do include: snow, aka being outside and hopefully there is snow; getting together with family or friends; board games if the boy and I can convince the Dad and sis to play; cocoa and other wonderful food. Maybe, just maybe I’ll carve the roast beast myself! But I doubt it, because we usually have turkey and hubby carves it.